Monday, April 28, 2003

And This Is Supposed to Be ... Scary? The very, um, confused Bill Greider writes of "George Bush II" in The Nation:
The [Bush-drivien right-wing] movement's grand ambition -- one can no longer say grandiose -- is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal's centralization. With that accomplished, movement conservatives envision a restored society in which the prevailing values and power relationships resemble the America that existed around 1900, when William McKinley was President. Governing authority and resources are dispersed from Washington, returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth--both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes--are permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax.
You know, if this were really Bush's grand plan, I'd have no choice but to vote for him. Unfortunately, the GOP has no ambitions that are even remotely that grand. George W. Bush, like his father, is a moderate, semi-big-government Republican. He has more juice with the base than his dad did, but, as even the liberals will tell you, this comes mainly from what Bush says and his token gestures, rather than decentralization ambitions, express or implied. Bush has not presided over any sweeping tax cuts (rates are still a lot higher than under Reagan), nor has he engineered any significant spending cuts or returns of power to the states (for example, his monstrous "no child left behind" education bill, which was supposed to empower local decision and cut federal spending but was, in the end, essentially written by Teddy Kennedy's staff). Asks the folks at Reason or the Cato Institute, the folks who really support "rolling back the 20th Century" (Greider's laughable catch phrase for dismantling the leviathan state), if they think Bush is implementing the kind of reform (yes, it would be reform) that Greider so fears. (Honestly, though, you'll probably have to wait until they've finished laughing.) Greider, as usual, is throwing a punch that is all D.C.-Comics-style "ker-POWW!" bubble and zero actual contact. Read the whole thing for alarmist gems like these:
Liberal activists gasped at the variety and dangerous implications (the public might have been upset too but was preoccupied with war), while conservatives understood that Bush was laying the foundations, step by step, toward their grand transformation of American life.
Hilarious alarmism -- plus, if you act now, some supercilious dismissal of "the public's" ability to keep its eye on the ball. (Thank god Bill Greider is watching for them.)

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